' ' Cinema Romantico: Countdown to the Oscars: Cinema Romantico’s Film Location Awards

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Countdown to the Oscars: Cinema Romantico’s Film Location Awards

Film locations, if you’re choosing to get off the set, which is, of course, so much more common in these days long after the studio system in which all manner of movies were shot in rigidly scheduled time on cavernous backlots, becomes crucial. Consider Michael Mann, who often shuns soundstages for the real world, finding places as off the beaten path as the mountaintop conclusion to “Last of the Mohicans” (which is literally off the beaten path – I know because I hiked to it) as famously a jaw-dropping locale as the Iguazu Falls in “Miami Vice” or as unassuming yet memorable a place as the coffee shop in “Heat.” You listen to Mann on the director’s commentary track for “Miami Vice” talk about capturing real images of Colombia’s downtrodden discarding Styrofoam from packing boxes in the street, which he nimbly contrasts with images of the high-rolling Range Rovers of a big-time drug cartel, and you can hear him lighting up. I can only imagine how many houses Mann scouted to find “Heat’s” house on stilts in East L.A.

Film Locations are no joke, which is why each year the Location Managers Guild International bestows its LGMI Awards in which they honor the “creative contributions of location professionals and film commissions from around the world.” Well, Cinema Romantico wants to do this too. Cinema Romantico did this two years ago, as you may or may not recall, but forgot to do it last year, which we considerably regret. (We would have cited Donut Time in “Tangerine”, Max’s Steaks in “Creed” and, of course, the Hong Kong Ritz Carlton in Michael Mann’s “Blackhat”.) So today we re-engage with our aspiring tradition of honoring the best in the year’s film locations, IORO (in our ridiculous opinion).

2nd Annual Cinema Romantico Film Location Awards

Moonlight: Jimmys Eastwide Diner, Miami

The concluding scene in which two characters who have not seen each other since childhood is essentially a stepping back in time, which the setting, this little diner with its tiffany lamps, red & white curtains and vinyl booths, economically and colorfully underlines.

La La Land: Rose Towers, Long Beach

One of the criticisms I have heard levied at La La Land, which has principally come from actual Los Angelenos, is that the film is only interested in some whimsically fantastic version of L.A., not the real L.A. I liked La La Land, though Im not overly high on it, but this is one complaint I find difficult to receive. Isnt it called La La Land because its not the real L.A.? And though the Rose Towers, where Emma Stone’s aspiring actress dwells, might be real, director Damien Chazelle chooses them because their pink exterior mingles so majestically with the myriad colors he puts on screen through the sky at twlight and the colors of the characters' clothes during the movies most breathtaking scene.

A Bigger Splash: Coste Ghirlanda, Pantelleria

Among the oldest and most compelling reasons there is to go the movies, film critic Dana Stevens once wrote, is watching something (w)ed like to be doing too and (knowing) this is as close as were ever gonna get." I thought of that line when the primary quartet of Luca GuadagninoA Bigger Splash sits down for dinner at the mind-bendingly picturesque hillside bistro. Sigh. If only...

Paterson: Paterson Great Falls, Paterson, NJ

The day after the Presidential Election, I was on vacation in the Minnesota hinterlands and my family and I went up to Grand Portgage State Park on the Canadian border. Because it was early November, there were very, very few people around, giving me the chance to stand in the presence of the High Falls of Pigeon River and simply close my eyes and......listen. God, that sounded good, the ceaseless churn of the water over those rocks 120 feet up. It was a noise to get lost in, to subsume all the nasty thoughts roiling in your head into more cleansing, uplifting ones instead. I thought that must have been the feeling Paterson the Poet of Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson” was seeking when he wrote in his notebook while sitting before the Great Falls.

Hail, Caesar!: Good Luck Bar, Los Angeles

I had no intention of including this on the list because I had simply assumed The Coen Brothers dreamt up their in-movie Chinese restaurant from scratch. But no! It was actually the Good Luck Bar in L.A.s Los Feliz neighborhood. Read a few reviews of this place, however, and not just the obligatory they didnt have bendy straws so this place sucks laments on Yelp, and it might instead make you hesitant. Of course, thats also what the movies are for, turning something real into something mythical.

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